Hong Kong and Guangdong have formed a new anti-smuggling task force to bust triad smuggling syndicates, after a high-level meeting in Shenzhen to discuss the tragic death of a young marine police officer, Lam Yuen-yee, killed on anti-smuggling patrol last week.
Hong Kong’s Commissioner of Police, Siu Chak-yee, travelled to Shenzhen yesterday to meet with the Vice Governor of Guangdong, Wang Zhizhang, and the Director of the Guangdong Coast Guard, Liu Shaogen.
Both sides expressed “great concern” about Lam’s death and “agreed to immediately set up a task force to strengthen exchange of intelligence for investigating the case actively and thoroughly,” according to a government statement.
Lam’s death had aroused criticism of the force’s handling of smuggling cases, which sources say have risen drastically as land borders with China have closed or narrowed under Covid-19.
Videos and images shared widely on social media showed instances of brazen gangs of smugglers in 50-strong high-speed armadas criss-crossing Hong Kong’s waters around north Lantau.
The new task force, operational immediately, will share equipment, training and operational intelligence, while conducting joint operations in Hong Kong and mainland waters.
A government statement says a major target will be triad recruitment, as well as rooting out the storage of frozen meat and those firms offering illegal vessel upgrades. Seized vessels and evidence will be shared more efficiently between the two jurisdictions, says the government statement.
Police ran a major anti-triad smuggling operation on the day of Lam’s disappearance, netting 85 arrests and two high-powered speedboats – but a spokeswoman claimed that operation was part of on-going anti-triad work and not related to Lam’s disappearance or death. The strategy of the triad crime bureau, she said, was to attack the hideouts rather than chase at sea.